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United's poor social media strategy

United Twitter team

Clearly I'm not alone in my annoyance with United these days or with airline social media teams.  Matthew's recent post on the complete lack of trust in United leadership is excellent and on point building on the HuffPo piece he linked. I discuss how that affects other aspects of the United operation.  Also, Rocky had a poor experience with the USAirways twitter team, and my post is about more general frustrations with the United social media team over time. ...

Touring Istanbul on my short overnight layover


After a nice time in Belgium, and an easy flight back to Istanbul, while I had the business class cabin to myself, I would finally have some time to leave Atatürk Airport and see a few of the sites in Istanbul.  Of course, a few hours exploring is not nearly enough time, but I was pretty happy with what I got to see in the short time I had.  

The Sultan Ahmed Mosque, commonly known as the Blue ...

Initial thoughts on my first trip to Africa

As I mentioned previously, last week returned from my first trip to the African continent.  I am planning a complete trip report, but I'll try to finish a few other reports first. Here are a few comments and some photos from my trip.

My first view of Africa from the air:


Lagos airport wasn't as bad as I feared, and bribe requests were laughed off.  It was not a great place to have a layover while in transit, but once I was able to get online, ...

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Swiss Air Lines Business Class to Luxembourg


After Liverpool, another leg on my trip was to Belgium for some touring and tasty beers.  I also was able to and get the somewhat elusive passport stamp in Luxembourg.

Early morning in Manchester UK 

My trip began early in the morning in Manchester Airport.  The security line was a bit of a mess, but once through, I had enough time for a quick stop in the lounge for a snack and some tea before ...

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A trip of Firsts: United 787 Business Class to Africa

United 787

My next trip is one I've been anticipating for quite a while and for a few reasons.  It is my first trip to the African continent, my first trip in a premium cabin on a 787, and the first time on a intercontinental flight in United's current (subsidiary Continental) BusinessFirst cabin.

United 787 Business Class (Photo from Rocky's 787 report)


A good friend is ...

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Exploring Liverpool


The main reason for my trip to Europe was to attend a English Premier League match at Anfield, the home of Liverpool Football Club.  I've visited Liverpool before, but never attended a football match there.  I'm a fan of most sports, and love attending live events, but I've really started following Liverpool closely over the last few years, so a friend and I decided to make the pilgrimage to this historic city and stadium.

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Turkish Airlines 737 Business Class Istanbul to Manchester - True Business Class intra-Europe


After a nice flight from Houston, I had an overnight layover before my flight onward to Manchester.  Thanks to Turkish Airlines generous offer of a hotel during my layover, I stayed at the Renaissance Polat Hotel near the airport.  

My 737-900ER above the clouds somewhere over Europe


Unlike most airlines flying in Europe, Turkish still maintains a true Business Class cabin on many of ...

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New Destinations and New Perspectives


I’ve spent the last week in Dublin for a work trip.  My employer is going through some transitions following a merger.  The merger has led to much uncertainty, but maybe things are becoming more clear at least for me personally.  It looks like my business travel patterns will be changing a bit, with likely much more international travel.  This is something that I used to do, but for the last several years, most of my work travel has been in North America.

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Turkish Airlines 777 Business Class from Houston to Istanbul

Turkish 777

The first leg that I will review from my winter trip to Europe is the flight from Houston to Istanbul in Business Class on the Turkish Airlines 777.  The eastbound flight is typically about 11 hours, which is an ideal length for my preferences; with enough time to enjoy a meal, work or watch some TV and then sleep.  After that, there is time for more eating, reading or resting before arrival.


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Booking an award trip Europe in Turkish Business Class with United Miles

With all of the devaluations of travel loyalty programs in the past year or so, I've tried to do a better job of burning miles, and not just growing my balances.  It was a change in my mindset, but I think the right choice.  I recently returned from another Star Alliance Business Class trip to Europe, burning more of my stash of United Mileage Plus miles.


This trip had a few fun components.  I got to explore Istanbul for a short time, and ...

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Easy surveys for free magazine subscriptions - RewardSurvey


How would you like free subscription to The Economist, The Wall Street Journal, or Forbes? RewardSurvey allows you to do just that.

Now that electronic devices can be used throughout flight, maybe travelers will read magazines and newspapers on airplanes less frequently, but I guess I'm old school in this way.  Then again, many airlines outside the US still provided free newspapers to their customers, so I'm sure I'm not alone.  

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Maintaining United lounge access in 2014 and beyond

United Club

I seeking advice on how to renew lounge access for my routine travels, primarily on United.  

United Club in Austin, photo thanks to Kevin


I have never directly paid for a United Club membership.  For the last 2 years, I had access thanks to my United Club Visa card.  The first year fee was waived as a promotion, that is still available on occasion.  Prior to that, I used my BMI Gold status to ...

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Austrian Airlines Business Class Vienna to Chicago - Star to Spain


After a great trip to Spain, as an AvGeek, the last leg of the trip was one of my most anticipated segments, our ride home in Austrian Airlines Business Class.  

 In case you forget which airline you are flying, just check the bulkhead.  


Austrian recently completed a 90 Million Euro renovation to their entire longhaul fleet, currently consisting of 4 777-200ER and 6 767-300ER. ...

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NEXUS kiosks to be updated, plus additional member benefits


I haven't flown to Canada in several months, and I haven't noticed any technical issues with NEXUS kiosks, but I am not surprised that this excellent program is popular.  I have a trip across the border next week, but hopefully there won't be any delays.  I never had to wait more than a minute to get to a NEXUS kiosk.

My occasional travel across the border made the NEXUS application very worthwhile, especially since it makes me eligible for PreCheck and Global ...

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The Le Meridien Vienna - Star to Spain


This trip was primarily intended to go Spain, but I was happy to explore some new places even for a short stay.  We ended up book ending this trip with some short overnights in some major capitals, Zurich, Madrid and now Vienna.

The sitting room in our Executive Suite at Le Meridien Vienna

We opted for a cash and points booking at Le Meridien Vienna.  As a category 5 property, it cost 6000 points plus $110.  That seemed the ...

Bad data in United app, operational delays and expired beer



Yes, another blog post on United's poor operational performance.  As always, the experience flying with United is a mixed bag.  Being a United regular and 1K, I generally know how to handle these issues, but I always feel for the less frequent travelers who get such a poor impression of the airline due to it poorly managing so many aspects of their operation.


Of course, this trip was in February, so the weather didn't look anything like ...

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Skip the hotel reception desk - Aloft Hotels offer Smart Check-In


Starwood Preferred Guest continues to be innovative in their promotions and programs.  Recently, they offered a special program to allow guests to bypass the check in desk, by providing a reusable RFID card that could be used as a guest key at certain properties.  

My Smart Check-In card arrived 

As of right now, Smart Check-In is limited to a few Aloft hotels.  There are eight currently, and 4 more in the pipeline. ...

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AVE high speed train for a day in Madrid - Star to Spain


Most of my trip reports are about airplane and hotel experiences, but for some variety, here is a quick review of the AVE high speed train that we took from Seville to Madrid.  Plus, a little bit from our brief time in Madrid.

AVE train at Seville Santa Justa station


Thanks to booking somewhat late due to some uncertainty of our plans, we had to pay a slight premium.  The cheapest ticket ...

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Lessening the sting of the Hyatt devaluation


Now that the global economy is improving, it seems the most travel loyalty programs are going through devaluations.  United's major devaluation took effect in early February.  This is almost an annual process at some hotel chains.


The Park Hyatt Maldives, now 25,000 Gold Passport points per night

As of January 7, 2014, Hyatt has increased the cost to book many of their properties using ...

The Hotel Alfonso XIII in Seville- Star to Spain


After our time in Málaga and Granada, our last stop on our trip in Andalusia was in Seville.  Here we let a hotel promotion help guide our destination planning to some extent.  I had some free SPG nights to use, so we tried to maximize this redemption.  Since this is an expensive Category 6 hotel (second highest for SPG, and the highest we could use for this particular deal), I think we got a great value for the Luxury Collection ...